The Maple Leafs open their season Wednesday night and will be without the services of star forward Auston Matthews.
“Personally, I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I feel 100 percent comfortable playing.” told reporters on Monday. “That’s it. I feel good physically and everything, I think I need a little more time.”
Toronto opens its season Wednesday night against the Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena.
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What is Auston Matthews’ injury?
The Maple Leafs announced on August 13 that Matthews underwent wrist surgery after dealing with discomfort when he increased his ice training earlier in the week. A minimum of six weeks was expected to be missed at that point, which would have prepared him to start training camp. It will take a little longer before fitting into a game.
Matthews deals with a sore wrist during the 2021 NHL season, missing four games.
“I think it’s a treatable thing. He’s been dealing with it for a long time this season,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said in late February after the team’s 2-1 win. in overtime against the Flames (in which Matthews did not) don’t feel comfortable going head-to-head in the overtime session).
The first sign of a problem came on January 22, when the American, who was already included in the 2022 Olympic team, left during a victory over the Oilers. He didn’t practice the next day and said after playing two nights later that he had “some problems with my hand that I was going through.”
During episode 2 of the Amazon documentary series, “All or Nothing,” Matthews tells a teammate that he got his wrist stuck.
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When is Auston Matthews expected to return?
It has already been determined that Matthews will miss the first three games of the 2021-22 regular season. The Maple Leafs play the Canadiens on Wednesday before a home game with the Senators on Thursday (in Ottawa) and Saturday (in Toronto).
“He went through last season where he wasn’t playing 100 percent and he went through this procedure to be in that position (to play 100 percent),” Keefe said (via David Alter of The Hockey News). “We will make sure we are patient enough to allow that to happen.”
For the first time in nearly two years, the expectation is for Toronto to play a full 82-game roster, so there’s plenty of time for Matthews to get back into the lineup. Last season, despite a sprained wrist, he scored 41 goals, the best in the NHL, to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. It is still thought among experts that he will be back in the conversation as the league’s top scorer this season, despite missing the start of the season.
While it’s a long season, the Leafs are hoping to get off to a quick start after coming off another disappointing season. The team was sent off in the first round of the playoffs, again, in 2021, this time by their opening night opponent, the Canadiens. Losing Matthews leaves a hole in the lineup as he centers the top line. Captain John Tavares has taken his place between Mitchell Marner and Nick Ritchie, and the right circle in the power play. Marner, by the way, is a game-time decision for game No. 1.
Also on the shelf is striker Ilya Mikheyev, who underwent successful surgery to repair a broken thumb. He’s out for eight weeks and on long-term injury reserve.